Friday, September 28, 2012

Anna Karenina


About 2 weeks ago, I spotted this book on a shelf here at home. It is my husband's book(I teased him the other day that I collect sea glass and he collects books!) Seeing the book,  I realized that even though I have been to Leo Tolstoy's home and lived in Moscow, I haven't read any of his works. A sort of  "shame on me" feeling came over me and I thought I would give it a try. Unsure of what I would find, I began reading and immediately liked it.
I liked the characters I met, it was fairly light and easy to follow and then Anna meets Vronsky. As far as I can tell he isn't that special but from the first time they meet, they have a connection and rather than walk away (Anna is married and has a 4 year old son) they become "involved". I appreciated how Tolstoy explained their connection without being graphic or even suggestive. You really don't know(but assume) how intimate they have become until Anna tells Vronsky she is pregnant. 

It was easy to contrast this "relationship" with the relationship that develops between two other main characters, Kitty and Levin. Their relationship begins with disappointment, a time of waiting and working on themselves, and then they meet again and the time is right and they marry (despite some differences!)

I don't know if I would have/could have appreciated this book for all it offers when I was younger. I have seen both of these relationships (I won't call it love because what Kitty and Vronsky have I don't consider love, although Hollywood does but that is a different tangent!) and marvel at the way Tolstoy explores the effect these different choices have on the main characters. (spoiler alert!) Anna gives up her son, doesn't really care, emotionally, for her new daughter, and in the end seems to lose her mind with jealousy.

Tolstoy does include various philosophical, religious, and political thoughts of the times, which are interesting but I didn't always follow. I thought the ending when Levin finds a spiritual peace to his searching a great way to end such a "serious" book. Tolstoy truly was a genius and after reading Anna Karenina, I am interested in reading more about his life and others of his writings. 

PS When I did a search to find a picture I could clip, I found a trailer for the 2012 movie Anna Karenina with Keira Knightly and Jude Law. The trailer was, in my mind, everything that the book isn't, sensationalism and sex. But then again, that seems to be what much of Hollywood is all about!

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